Friday, May 17, 2024

The Vision (5.17.24): And his commandments are not grievous


Image: Rhododendron, North Garden, Virginia, May 2024.

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 1 John 5:1-5.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).

The apostle John calls here for obedience to Christ’s commands as an indicator that one knows the love of God. We sometimes call this the ethical or moral test of assurance. As Christ himself taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15; cf. John 15:14).

John concludes at the end of v. 3: “and his commandments are not grievous.”

One thinks of Christ’s teaching of his disciples in Matthew 11, when he told them, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (vv. 28-30).

Did you ever consider that the things that Christ commands of us, like personal righteousness, holiness, and uprightness, only appear to be “grievous” to us because of our fallen condition?

I was reading recently a little booklet addressing the topic of Christians and sexual purity. At one point the author wrote:

Imagine a juicy burger on your dinner plate. Now imagine that you know the meat is saturated with E. coli bacteria. Would you eat it anyway just because it looks good and would satisfy your hunger? Of course, you wouldn’t. Every rational person knows that having a full stomach isn’t worth eighteen hours of vomiting and perhaps a trip to the emergency room. Instead you’ll throw the whole thing in the trash and scour the plate with hot water and strong soap.

The author then adds:

Pornography is E. coli for your soul (Daryl Wingerd, Delivered By Desire, 25; you can read a free pdf of this booklet online here).

Let us consider: When Christ gives us commands to live holy and righteous and upright lives, when he commands us through his apostle, “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18a), is he telling us something that is meant to be “grievous” to us? Or is he telling us what will lead us to health and well-being, to avoid sickness and death, and we are just too influenced by the remaining corruption of sin in us to recognize this?

The immediate context in 1 John is not a negative admonition as to what to avoid, but a positive admonition as to what to pursue. It will be to the glory of God and to the spiritual benefit of ourselves and others if we will love the brethren as Christ has loved us. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). This should not be grievous to us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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